The Best 12-String Guitars in 2023

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The sound of a 12-string guitar is like nothing else – it has a rich, ringing tone that is simply irresistible. Whether you’re a seasoned musician or a novice looking to add some depth to your melodies, a 12-string guitar can transform your music and take it to new depths.

But with so many options available in the market, how do you choose the best one for you? Fear not, as this comprehensive guide, focusing on the best 12-string guitar in 2023, is here to save the day, providing valuable insights to help you make an informed decision. Whether you’re a folk music or hard rock fan, we’ve got something for everyone. Get ready to strum your way to richer sounds!

A Taylor 254ce 12-string Acoustic-electric guitar on a white background

Taylor 254ce 12-string


The Taylor 254ce is a 12-string acoustic-electric guitar that hails from Taylor’s 2016 200 series. Crafted in Mexico, it features an impressive 25.5″ scale length and a 15″ fretboard radius. The beautiful design includes a solid Sitka Spruce top, layered Rosewood back and sides, and a Tropical Mahogany neck.

This guitar also has cutting-edge Expression System 2 Electronics, a West African Crelicam Ebony bridge, and fretboard. The guitar is aesthetically pleasing with its Grand Auditorium body shape, a Venetian cutaway, matte finish, and crisp white binding. The Copper Fe material provides an eco-friendly alternative to rosewood, giving the guitar a similar look and sound.

Key Benefits

  • Resonant, octave-rich tone typical of 12-string guitars
  • Solid Sitka Spruce top for excellent projection and clarity
  • Layered Rosewood back and sides for improved overall resonance and tonal balance
  • Comfortable playing experience with the Tropical Mahogany neck and West African Crelicam Ebony fretboard
  • Venetian cutaway for easy access to higher frets
  • Ideal action and spacing for strumming and flat-picking


The Taylor 254ce comes with a padded gig bag for effortless transportation. As part of Taylor’s 200 Series, it offers a more affordable option than their higher-end models. However, don’t be fooled by the cost. This guitar received much praise from customers for its playability, tone, and overall quality.

See Current Pricing Here

Pros & Cons

The Taylor 254ce undoubtedly shines with its rich, octave-rich tone, excellent projection, and clarity. The combination of a solid Sitka Spruce top and layered Rosewood back and sides contribute to the guitar’s overall resonance and tonal balance.

The Tropical Mahogany neck and West African Crelicam Ebony fretboard offer a comfortable playing experience. The Venetian cutaway provides easy access to the higher frets, the action is low, and the spacing is ideal for strumming and flat-picking.

However, while the guitar offers a classic 12-string sound with a rich and full tone, it may require some time for a beginner to master this style. Nonetheless, the 254ce is a versatile, reliable 12-string guitar suitable for intermediate players and professionals.

A Guild Starfire I 12-string Semi-hollow Electric Guitar on a white background

Guild Starfire I 12-string Semi-hollow Electric Guitar


Guild has introduced its most affordable 12-string model, the Starfire I-12 electric guitar. This guitar boasts a semi-hollow construction with a mahogany center block and a 24 3/4″ scale length. A neck joint complements the unique U-shaped neck profile at the 18th fret for easy upper fret access.

Sealed in a classy Cherry Red finish, the Starfire I-12 is constructed of mahogany, including the arched top, back, sides, neck, and even the center block.

Key Benefits

  • The semi-hollow construction with a mahogany center block increases sustain and reduces feedback while maintaining a crisp tone.
  • The U-shaped neck profile ensures fast and smooth play, making it ideal for speed players.
  • The Guild HB-2 humbuckers offer a wide range of tones, fully accommodating the range of frequencies produced by 12-string guitars.
  • The Tune-O-Matic bridge allows for easy intonation, perfect for precise tuning.


The Guild Starfire I-12 electric guitar offers exceptional value for its features and craftsmanship. With a price tag of around $649, it is a highly affordable option for a 12-string model, especially considering its multitude of features and signature Guild tones.

See Current Pricing Here

Pros & Cons

This guitar’s semi-hollow construction with a mahogany center block adds to its aesthetic appeal, increases sustain, and reduces feedback while maintaining a crisp, clear tone. Additionally, the U-shaped neck profile is a highlight. It allows fast and smooth play, perfect for players at any skill level.

Another advantage is the pair of Guild HB-2 humbuckers with push-pull coil splitting capabilities. It offers a wide range of tones, accommodating the frequencies produced by 12-string guitars. The hardware features are equally impressive, including a Tune-O-Matic bridge, a stop bar tailpiece, classic Guild knobs, a three-step black pickguard, and a nickel Guild headstock logo.

However, every guitar has its minor drawbacks. While the cherry red finish is beautiful, some may prefer more options for customization. Despite this, the Starfire I-12 stands as a versatile and affordable 12-string electric guitar that offers classic Guild tones and a comfortable playing experience.

The Epiphone Songmaker DR-212 12-string Guitar on a white background

Epiphone Songmaker DR-212


The Epiphone Songmaker DR-212 is a 12-string acoustic guitar manufactured by Epiphone, a well-known brand respected for its quality instruments. This guitar showcases a select spruce top along with a mahogany back and sides, which together contribute to a rich and balanced tone. Built with solid quality, its production has no apparent indications of cost-cutting.

As a subsidiary company of Gibson, Epiphone ensures the DR-212 meets high standards while maintaining a budget-friendly price tag. It is a suitable option for both beginners and experienced players.

Key Benefits

  • The DR-212 is considered an excellent choice for beginners who aim to familiarize themselves with a 12-string guitar thanks to its affordability and comfort of play.
  • The guitar’s versatility is commendable, as it can be used for a broad range of genres and playing styles and is also suitable for studio recordings.
  • Epiphone’s offer of a limited lifetime warranty protects against any defects, enhancing the value of the purchase.


The DR-212 comes with an affordable price tag, making it a financially accessible option for beginners. Its affordability, quality, and versatility make it an excellent choice for musicians experimenting with different sounds or seeking a reliable backup guitar.

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Pros & Cons

From my perspective, the Epiphone Songmaker DR-212 has many positives. Its distinctive tonal quality offers bright and full chords, producing clear and resonant single notes when strummed. The playability of the DR-212 is comfortable due to the slim D-shaped mahogany neck and a nut width of 1.75″, which makes it easy to fret and play chords. The use of scalloped bracing on the spruce top ensures a loud volume and bold bass frequencies.

However, there are a few minor drawbacks that are worth mentioning. For instance, there are some cost-cutting instances, such as using a plastic nut and stock strings. But these elements can be easily upgraded for better tuning stability and sound quality. Despite these minor issues, the overall quality and value of the Epiphone DR-212 remain impressive.

The Takamine G30 Series 12 string guitar on a white background

Takamine G30 Series


The Takamine G30 Series, specifically the GD30CE-NAT, is a mid-priced acoustic-electric guitar catering to intermediate and professional players. It’s a well-built and well-equipped model that promises a comfortable playing experience. The guitar’s construction constitutes a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides, contributing to its rich and resonant sound.

The guitar is also equipped with a built-in TP-4TD preamp system that includes a tuner and three-band EQ, providing further control over the sound and performance. The GD30CE-NAT comes complete with D’Addario EXP bronze-coated strings.

Key Benefits

  • The guitar’s solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides offer a rich and resonant sound.
  • The built-in TP-4TD preamp system allows for easy control over sound and performance.
  • The GD30CE-NAT is highly comfortable to play, making it suitable for guitarists with smaller hands or beginners.
  • The sleek and attractive design, featuring a gloss finish and rosewood headstock and bridge, makes it appealing to the eye.


The GD30CE-NAT from the Takamine G30 Series is a great value proposition. Its price reflects its quality and benefits, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a mid-priced acoustic-electric guitar that does not compromise performance or looks.

See Current Pricing Here

Pros & Cons

Speaking from our experience, the Takamine G30 Series has several pros and cons. On the positive side, the GD30CE-NAT’s mahogany neck has a slim profile, making it incredibly comfortable to play. This can be particularly beneficial for those with smaller hands or beginners who are still getting a feel for the instrument. The guitar also boasts an attractive design, with a smooth gloss finish and a rosewood headstock and bridge that add to its aesthetic appeal.

On the other hand, some players might find the D’Addario EXP bronze-coated strings not to their liking and may want to replace them for a different sound. However, this is more of a personal preference than a drawback, as the strings can significantly enhance the guitar’s overall sound profile and performance.

The Martin D12-28 12 string guitar on a white background

Martin D12-28


As a prominent player in the guitar industry, Martin Guitars has a reputation for their quality and craftsmanship, and the Martin D12-28 is no exception.

This guitar is a dreadnought acoustic model, characterized by its mahogany backs and sides, which are well-known for their volume and sustain. Martin’s D12-28 is a testament to the brand’s commitment to producing guitars of the highest standards, primarily in the United States, with models under $1000 made in Mexico.

Key Benefits

  • Martin’s guitar kits provide all the necessary components, offering a unique and rewarding experience for guitar enthusiasts.
  • The choice of wood used in the construction of the Martin D12-28 guitar plays a crucial role in the instrument’s sound quality, providing a warmer and fuller sound than other brands.
  • The Martin D12-28 guitar, with proper care and maintenance, can last many years, offering long-term enjoyment for its owner.
  • While changes on a 12-string guitar with a slotted headstock might be more challenging, it provides an opportunity for learning and mastering the instrument.


Martin Guitars, including the D12-28, are known for their high cost. This reflects their commitment to producing guitars of the best quality.

However, for those who are budget-conscious, guitar kits can be a more affordable option. The cost for these DIY kits depends on the complexity of the build and the quality of the parts involved.

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Pros & Cons

On the one hand, owning a Martin D12-28 guitar can be an exciting experience. The guitars are well-crafted, produce a warm and full sound, and with good maintenance, they can last for many years.

However, there are also specific challenges. For instance, Martin guitars, including the D12-28, can be more challenging to play due to factors like string spacing, scale length, and neck width.

Additionally, due to their fine quality, these guitars can be fragile and require proper care and maintenance to ensure their longevity. A challenge specific to the D12-28 is that changing strings can be slightly tricky due to the slotted headstock. But, with some patience and practice, these challenges could become rewarding learning experiences.

The Gretsch G6122-6212 12 string guitar on a white background

Gretsch G6122-6212


The Gretsch G6122-6212 Vintage Select Edition ’62 Chet Atkins Country Gentleman is a stunning 12-string electric guitar that effortlessly revives the distinct style and sound of the 1960s era. Crafted in Japan, the guitar showcases TV Jones Classic pickups, and traditional Gretsch controls that offer tonal versatility, delivering a refined and articulate tone.

Its laminated maple body, simulated F-holes, and sealed body design combine to create a vintage hollow body tone that minimizes feedback. Its maple neck with a standard “U” shape and an ebony fingerboard with a 12″ radius add to the comfortable playing experience.

With a bone nut and a pinned Adjusto-Matic bridge, this guitar ensures precise intonation. And, not to forget the Grover Die-Cast tuners and gold hardware finish that add a classic look to the guitar. Its quality construction, and diverse genre compatibility make it a desirable choice for musicians.

Key Benefits

  • It boasts a 1960s vintage style and sound.
  • Equipped with TV Jones Classic pickups that produce a refined and articulate tone
  • Made with a laminated maple body with simulated F-holes for a vintage hollow body tone
  • Features a sealed body design to minimize feedback
  • Offers a comfortable playing experience with its standard “U” shape maple neck and 12″ radius ebony fingerboard
  • Ensures precise intonation with a bone nut and a pinned Adjusto-Matic bridge
  • Finished with Grover Die-Cast tuners and gold hardware for a classic look
  • Showcases high-quality construction and excellent quality control
  • Suitable for diverse genres, including heavy metal, hard rock, jazz, blues, funk, and country
  • It has a scale length of 24.6″ for a bassy tone and easier bending


We recommend checking the official Gretsch website or authorized retailers for the most recent and accurate pricing information.

See Current Pricing Here

Pros & Cons

As a first-hand user of the Gretsch G6122-6212 Vintage Select Edition ’62 Chet Atkins Country Gentleman, we can attest to its impressive features and versatile performance. It scores a 77 on playability, signifying it’s easy to play and comfortable for most hand sizes.

The standard “U” shape neck profile is excellent for those who prefer the feel of a vintage neck. The fretboard’s 12″ radius strikes a healthy balance between single-note and chord playing.

However, the guitar has 22 vintage frets and vintage-sized frets, which some players might not prefer if they are more accustomed to modern guitar models.

All in all, Gretsch G6122-6212’s versatile sound, comfortable playability, and vintage appeal make it a worthy addition to any musician’s collection.

The Fender Villager 12-String V3 guitar on a white background

Fender Villager 12-String V3


The Fender Villager 12-String V3 is a high-end acoustic guitar characterized by its non-cutaway body, solid spruce top, and laminated mahogany back and sides. Coated in a gloss poly finish, the guitar has a comfortable scale length of 24.72″.

The guitar’s construction comprises various durable materials such as nickel for the tuning machines, pickguard, and strap buttons. The tuning machines are sealed to maintain the tension and tune of the strings.

The sound and playability of the guitar are further enriched by its modern Viking bridge, cream-colored bridge pins with black dots, and a graph tech nubone saddle.

Key Benefits

  • The Fender Villager 12-String V3 is noted for its rich, resonant, bright tone, attributed to its solid spruce body.
  • Its mahogany neck with a satin urethane finish, designed in a slim “C” shape coupled with an adjustable truss rod, facilitates easy playability and adjustment.
  • The guitar’s walnut fretboard, with a 12″ radius and white dot inlays, hosts 20 2mm frets.
  • A modern Viking bridge, cream-colored bridge pins with black dots, and a graph tech nubone saddle contribute to the guitar’s sound and playability.
  • The guitar features a Fishman-designed preamp system for effortless amplification and a built-in tuner for convenient tuning.
  • Offering a vintage-inspired design with a gold pickguard, its gloss poly finish enhances the guitar’s appearance.
  • Despite being produced in China, the guitar is synonymous with quality and attention to detail.


The Fender Villager 12-String V3 is a cost-effective choice for both beginner and experienced players, offering high-quality construction and design at a competitive price point.

See Current Pricing Here

Pros & Cons

From our perspective, the Fender Villager 12-String V3 has several notable advantages. It has earned praise for its hardware, body construction, and sound quality. Its 12 strings deliver a unique and rich sound, suitable for various genres and playing styles.

The guitar is easy to play, thanks to its comfortable neck and low action. Additionally, it includes a Fishman-designed preamp system for simple amplification and a built-in tuner for convenient tuning. One of the significant aesthetic features is its vintage-inspired design, including a gold pickguard and a modern Viking bridge.

While it is made in China, it doesn’t compromise on quality and detail. However, it’s crucial to consider that it might not match the craftsmanship of Western-made guitars, which some players may prefer.

Why Consider Getting a 12-String Guitar?

If you’re a music enthusiast or a professional musician, you may have come across or heard the unique, ethereal sound of a 12-string guitar. This specific type of guitar is a variation of the standard 6-string guitar, and it’s known for its rich, chiming resonance, offering a wider frequency range, added textures, and overtones. This is achieved because it is designed with 12 strings arranged in six courses, which means two strings per course. When played, the courses of strings ring out together, creating a beautiful, characteristic shimmering sound often described as a natural chorus effect.

The 12-string guitar can be found in both acoustic and electric versions, and it has been used across various genres of music, from rock to folk and psychedelic music. It’s particularly known for its impact on the folk and rock music scene in the 1960s, and some of the most iconic songs have been recorded using a 12-string guitar, proving its versatility and the unique depth it can bring to a piece of music.

However, it’s worth noting that a 12-string guitar can be more challenging to play due to the higher string tension and a wider neck. Yet, many players find that the unique sound and richness it provides outweigh the initial challenges.

Overall, considering a 12-string guitar can offer a unique and distinctive sound that can add depth and richness to your music. Whether you’re an intermediate player looking to expand your sound or a professional musician seeking to add another layer to your performances, a 12-string guitar could be an exciting and rewarding addition to your musical repertoire.

What Are the Benefits of a 12-String Guitar?

While a 12-string guitar may initially present a slight challenge due to its unique features, such as additional string tension and a wider neck, its benefits are significant and rewarding. Among its distinctive characteristics, the most prominent is the unique, shimmering sound it produces. This is achieved due to its structural design that features 12 strings arranged in six courses. Each course of strings rings out together, creating a vibrant, full-bodied sound often described as a natural chorus effect. Its sound quality is further influenced by the type of wood used in its construction, with different tonewoods offering various tones and resonance.

The 12-string guitar is not limited to a single type; it is available in both acoustic and electric versions. This versatility allows musicians to choose the kind that best suits their musical style and preferences. It has found its place in various genres of music, ranging from rock to folk, and even psychedelic music. Many iconic songs from these genres have been recorded using a 12-string guitar, highlighting its versatility and the unique depth it can add to music.

Notably, the 12-string guitar offers not only a distinctive sound, but also a wider frequency range, added textures, and overtones, enhancing the richness of the music. This can be particularly beneficial for solo performances, as it can provide an ethereal, larger-than-life sound that adds a unique dimension to the musical piece.

In sum, the benefits of a 12-string guitar extend beyond its rich sound. It offers musicians the opportunity to explore new tonal landscapes and add a unique depth and texture to their music, making it an exciting and rewarding addition to any musician’s repertoire.

Strumming Toward a Symphony of Strings

From the richness of the Taylor 254ce to the vintage vibe of the Gretsch G6122-6212, our exploration of 12-string guitars opens an entirely new musical dimension. Each instrument paints a distinct sonic picture, offering unique characteristics that lend themselves to different musical genres and playing styles.

Opting for a 12-string guitar, be it acoustic or electric, is a deliberate choice to enhance your musical repertoire. It’s about embracing a wider frequency range, experiencing added textures, and tapping into the instrument’s ethereal overtones. The initial challenge of adapting to double the strings or a wider neck soon transforms into a rewarding journey of musical exploration.

The variety we’ve explored, from the budget-friendly Epiphone Songmaker DR-212 to the high-end Martin D12-28, shows that there is a 12-string out there for every guitarist. So whether you’re just starting out, looking to elevate your sound, or just want to experiment with a new tone, there’s a 12-string guitar waiting to resonate with your musical aspirations.

So strum on, let every string sing, and dive into the alluring world of 12-string guitars. Let the harmonious blend of twice the strings open up twice the possibilities, adding depth, richness, and a unique tonal diversity to your sonic palette.


Andrew Scrivens

Andrew Scrivens

I am a live musician and guitar teacher from Brisbane, Australia, with extensive experience playing live, in the studio and for TV shows. I play in many venues, studios, music shops and with my students and as such am exposed to a lot of different gear. I form my opinions based on my experiences playing instruments in these locations.

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